Thursday, April 17, 2014

Some Very Good News for Diabetics

First, the good news:

“This is the first really credible, reliable data that demonstrates that all of the efforts at reducing risk have paid off. Given that diabetes is the chronic epidemic of this millennium, this is a very important finding.” That's Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved in a study that gave this finding.

And the bad?

The fight is not over for those of us with one of the most common, potentially debilitating diseases affecting Americans--especially those of us who were a bit too casual about our lifestyles until it was too late to avoid diabetes.

The cost of diabetes is steep, not only in terms of suffering, but also to the economy: $176 billion a year in medical care alone.

The NYTimes (here) this morning talks about the rates of heart attack and death emerging from diabetes falling a jaw-dropping 60 percent between 1990 and 2010. That is in the face of a stunning increase in the number of Americans with Type 2 diabetes (which I have): tripled to 26 million with another 79 million diagnosed with "pre-diabetes." These are the lifestyle types of diabetes, having to do with being overweight (belly fat is a biggy here) and on the couch.

One of the most singificant reasons for the decline is that people are getting off their fat asses to exercise and are watching their diets.  and was not involved in the study. Dr. K. M. Venkat Narayan, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Emory University, who specializes in diabetes, is quoted as saying, “There is strong evidence that we’re implementing better care for patients with diabetes. Awareness has increased tremendously, and there’s been a great deal of emphasis on coordinated care in health care settings.”

Our overall progress is impressive, according to the study: "Beyond the declines in the rates of heart attacks and deaths from high blood sugar, the study found that the rates of strokes and lower extremity amputations — including upper and lower legs, ankles, feet, and toes — fell by about half. Rates for end-stage kidney failure dropped by about 30 percent. The study did not measure blindness, another critical diabetes complication."

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